New recipes and updates

Get new recipes
in your inbox

Cuisine Fiend

Find a recipe by ingredient

Brunsli chocolate biscuits

Wed, 8 May, 2024

Brunsli are chocolate and almond Christmas biscuits from Basel, Switzerland. They are gluten free, easy to make and utterly delicious.

brunsli chocolate biscuits

Not your typical Christmas biscuits

And they are not representative of Chrimbo cookies from around the world because they are so easy to make.

Christmas cookies are usually quite a project.

Lebkuchen or gingerbread dough has to mature in the fridge before it can be rolled out and cut. And that’s only plain biscuits, not the ones filled with jam and coated in chocolate. Still, they should be dressed, iced, decorated and garnished with as many sprinkles as will fit on the surface of the cookie. Or is it just The Weather Man?

Zimtsterne, star-shaped biscuits shared between German speaking countries, are really laborious to cut and ice.

Mince pies are not strictly biscuits but follow the pattern: crust, mincemeat, filling, the whole palaver. Ricciarelli are marzipan plus meringue plus a lot of effort. And biscotti have to be baked twice.

These ‘little brown’ ones, which is the literal meaning of the word ‘brunsli’, are a doddle. But none the less tasty than all the others.

basel brunsli

Brunsli or blondsli?

While making these I have accidentally discovered the blond option of these biscuits, just as easy to make and equally delicious.

Simply replace the cocoa powder with the same amount of plain flour and modify the spice as you wish. I like to add vanilla instead of the Christmas spices, but rose water and almond extract are lovely as well.

The source of my recipe

I do my share of research into various bakes, but these I just stumbled upon at Ottolenghi’s, of all places. His version is spiced with Chinese five spice powder which gives them an interesting flavour albeit not traditional or Christmassy.

In the end I combined his and Swiss About CH instructions, as Yotam skips the drying process after the biscuits are cut, to their detriment. They are much harder and easier to overbake if you’re not patient enough to let them rest.

swiss christmas biscuits brunsli

How to make the brunsli dough

To prove what I claim above: simply stir together all the dry ingredients, including orange zest, and beat in the egg whites until the dough comes together. It takes probably less time than it’s taking me to write this paragraph.

brunsli dough

The dough will roll out better if it’s chilled for at least half an hour, and it’s messy so best rolled out between layers of parchment. You can reuse the parchment to line the tray later for baking.

rolling and cutting brunsli

Cutting, drying and baking

When cutting brunsli, dip the cutter in icing sugar every now and then so the cookies pop out of the cutter more easily. A star shape will be especially pesky, with all the corners.

Arrange them on the parchment and let them dry out for a couple of hours, or overnight in the fridge.

Just like French macarons and other almond biscuits, the mix should dry and set so the top surface bakes smoothly and the shapes don’t spread.

They will bake for about ten minutes, depending on the size. They are ready when they don’t look quite ready yet, but the tops are matte and the bottoms slightly crisp.

Cool them on the parchment until completely cold, then gently transfer to a festive biscuit tin.

baking brunsli biscuits

More Christmas biscuit recipes

Gingerbread biscotti spiced with Christmas flavour, crunchy and dunkable, with mixed nuts and cinnamon sugar coating. Honey and spice and a festive spirit twice cooked!

Zimtsterne are German cinnamon and almond star-shaped cookies baked and gifted during Advent and Christmas. Tiny, dainty and naturally gluten-free, they are like edible sweet snowflakes!

This is the best and easiest recipe for lebkuchen, or gingerbread cookies. Traditional lebkuchen covered with lemon icing or coated in chocolate. Lebkuchen are honeyed, spiced biscuits and great fun to ice and decorate.

More almond biscuit recipes

Ricciarelli, almond shaped and almond flavoured biscuits from Siena, traditionally made and gifted for Christmas. An authentic recipe for these delightful marzipan sweets.

Orange dacquoise biscuits, chewy almond cookies made with egg whites, are like a meringue that changed its mind at the last minute and turned into sponge batter.

Mouchous, traditional macarons Basques, easier to make than the Parisian variety but just as delicious though presented individually and quite rustic compared to Paris macarons.

almond and chocolate swiss christmas cookies

Brunsli chocolate biscuits

Servings: makes 2 dozen biscuitsTime: 30 minutes plus chilling


  • 270g (2 cups plus 1 tbsp) ground almonds
  • 250g (1 cup plus 2 tbsp) granulated sugar, plus more to sprinkle
  • 40g (13 cup) icing sugar plus more for cutting
  • 40g (13 cup) cocoa powder
  • zest grated from 1 orange
  • 112 tsp cinnamon
  • a pinch of ground cloves
  • 14 tsp salt
  • 2 large egg whites


1. Stir together the almonds, granulated and icing sugar, cocoa, zest, spices and salt in a large bowl, mixing well and breaking up any icing sugar or cocoa clumps.

2. Stir in the egg whites with a spatula, pressing and mixing until absorbed and the dough starts to clump. Knead it with your hands and shape into a ball. Press it down into a disc, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for an hour.

3. Place the dough between two sheets of parchment and roll out to a thickness about 1cm/ ½ inch. Cut out biscuits dipping the cutters in icing sugar and place on a parchment lined baking tray. They don’t spread so can be arranged quite close together.

4. Let them sit for 1-2 hours in the kitchen or in the fridge overnight, uncovered, so the surface dries out.

5. Preheat the oven to 170 fan, if available/350F/gas 4.

6. Sprinkle with the extra sugar and bake for 10-12 minutes depending on the size of the biscuits, until they are set underneath and look matte on top.

7. Cool on the trays for 10 minutes, then place on wire racks to cool completely.

NEW recipe finder

Ingredients lying around and no idea what to cook with them? Then use my NEW Recipe Finder for inspiration!

Recipe Finder

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published

Characters left 800
Recipe rating
Email address*
Web site name
Be notified by email when a comment is posted

* required

Cuisine Fiend's

most recent

About me

Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


Sign up to receive the weekly recipes updates

Follow Fiend